Redmond-Based Moms Group Miffed at Not Being Allowed to Use Library Room

The manager of the Kirkland Library says all use of the meeting room must be open to the public.

Eastside Cool Mommies, a Redmond-based organization for mothers, is miffed at the Kirkland Branch of the King County Library System, saying it was turned down from booking the library public meeting room. KCLS officials say the group’s event does not fit with library policy.

Gia Parsons, who tried to book the Kirkland meeting room for March for Eastside Cool Mommies, said she was told by the library staff that “they are 'cracking down' on meeting room use by private groups, mommy groups included.

The main issues appears to be whether the group was allowing the public into the meeting, which library policy requires.

“They did not give me a specific reason but stated that there was a high demand for room use,” Parsons wrote Patch in an email. She added that she has never turned down anyone who has asked to join or asked questions.

“That just doesn’t seem to happen,” said Christine Livingston, managing librarian for the Kirkland branch. “In the past we’ve had children wander in and be told it’s only for that group, and the groups have that right to say who will attend their events, but it’s not appropriate for the library’s public meeting rooms; those have to be open to everyone.”

“This is a great group; it isn’t about favoring one group over another,” Livingston said. “It’s that this group’s events are not open to the general public.”

Livingston also said the public rooms are in great demand, and a look at the near-filled schedules for the public meeting rooms at the Kirkland and bear her out, being nearly booked. Woodinville’s meeting room is about to close for renovation.

Eastside Cool Mommies is open to all mothers, according to its website, but to attend a club event, participants must join the group. Club events are only shown on the website to members.

Livingston suggests private groups, including mommy groups, would be better served by checking with their local parks and recreations departments.

Here is the KCLS policy in its entirety: 

Meeting Room Use Policy

If you need to schedule a room with 72 hours notice or less, please contact the library directly. If you need to cancel a meeting room reservation, click here

As part of its service to the community, the King County Library System (KCLS) provides meeting rooms for use by local community groups and organizations. This policy ensures that KCLS meeting rooms are available for gatherings, the primary purpose or nature of which is civic, cultural, educational and/or of community-interest. Meeting room use will not be denied to any person or organization because of race, creed or color.

How to Reserve a Meeting Room:
Meeting room reservations may be made either online (see below) or by contacting your local community library. Reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. An application form may need to be completed and submitted in person 24 hours prior to the meeting. Please keep in mind the following guidelines when reserving a meeting room: You must accept the meeting room guidelines in order to reserve a room

The following rules govern the use of KCLS meeting rooms:

  • All meetings must be open to the public at no charge and may not be restricted to any particular group. With the exception of books and other resources sold at library-sponsored or related events, no products or services may be advertised, solicited or sold.
  • Fees to cover the cost of study materials used in classes, workshops, conferences and similar events can be collected by non-profit and governmental organizations; however, the purchase of study materials may not be a requirement for attendance and/or registration. Permission must be obtained in advance through the local library management.
  • Reservations for meeting room space are on a first-come, first-served basis. Library-sponsored programs will have preference.
  • Reservations can be made for the current month, plus two months in advance. Library buildings that are owned jointly by KCLS and another entity (e.g. Burien Library and City Hall) may have additional guidelines and/or limitations.
  • Groups are limited to reserving a meeting room once per month. To ensure that meeting rooms are available to a variety of groups, KCLS libraries may limit room use for particular organizations if abuse or non-compliance is detected, or if similar types of organizations are using rooms with such
    frequency that equitable use is in question.
  • Library meeting rooms are only available during open hours, with the exception of rooms used for elections and library-sponsored programs. Service Center meeting rooms are available outside of normal business hours.
  • Groups may not advertise that meetings are sponsored, co-sponsored or approved by the library, unless written permission is previously given by local library management.
  • Meeting room applications are reviewed by library staff to ensure they adhere to KCLS policy. Local library management has the authority to accept or reject requests for use of the meeting room(s).
  • KCLS will not provide storage of materials for any group.
  • Groups are responsible for taking care of the meeting room and are held responsible for any damage incurred. After using a meeting room, chairs must be stacked. If food is served, utensils must be washed, garbage disposed of and the kitchenette cleaned.
  • Alcoholic beverages may not be served or consumed on library property, except at special events hosted by the KCLS Foundation, Friends of the Library groups or any library related organizations or associations. These groups must obtain written permission to serve alcoholic beverages at special
    events in advance by local library management and must also notify KCLS Administration.
  • Groups must provide any necessary meeting equipment that is not available at the library. KCLS provides access to wireless Internet access for patrons to use with their own devices. (see instructions)
  • Attendance must not exceed the posted capacity of the meeting room. Small groups may be asked to move to a smaller room if one is available.
  • Groups must provide Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations when requested.
  • Groups will notify the library 24 hours before a meeting if it must be canceled.
  • Any use of the meeting room that disturbs regular library operations is not permitted.

Failure to comply with the following rules will result in withdrawal of room reservation privileges.

Nicola Romeo February 10, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Excuse me, but how is this news? An obnoxious Eastside "cool mommy clique" are angry because they can't bend the rules and get their way? Give it a rest ladies, crying to the media about a simple and reasonable rule is not at all "cool," and neither is calling yourself "cool." Very uncool.
Caitlin Moran February 10, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Hi Nicola, thanks for your feedback. I won't say I disagree with the sentiment of your comment, but to me, this was news because the rules affect everyone, not just moms groups. Some people might not be aware that those who hold meetings or events in library facilities are expected to keep the meeting open to everyone. Our sister site Woodinville Patch posted the same story and has received several comments from people who are concerned about how the rule applies to HOAs, for example. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
Kat Stremlau February 10, 2012 at 08:30 PM
This is news Nicola. When policies are enforced for one group and not another, it's news, an worth investigating. There a lot of parenting groups that could be effected by this change. Implying that we women with children are "crying" to the media is rude. The group discussed here in this article did not prevent the public from participating in the events planned there - and I know another mother's club that uses events and shows to promote their membership.
Audrey Van Tuyl February 10, 2012 at 11:41 PM
As the Founding Organizer of ECM, I would like to comment on the library's response to this issue. While yes, we are a private group, we have never once turned away interested parties from events held in a public place. We deem this a great way to "meet new potential members" and welcome all kids (and their parents) into our events with open arms. In the same sense, even their excuse for this doesn't make sense. If you look at their current list of approved upcoming events you will see organizations such as knitting clubs, HOAs, etc using the space for their meetings. Are you to tell me that I could walk into an HOA meeting and be welcome to join in, even though I have nothing to do with that HOA? C'mon, that's just not real. Ban the groups that have the issue, if there are groups that are non-inclusive to library patrons, ban them specifically - that's not us. If there are groups that use the space as a glorified indoor playdate - ban them specifically, that's not us. If there are groups that leave the space a mess or damaged - ban them specifically, that's not us. ECM is a great group of women - one I am more than blessed to have the privilege of knowing. These are ladies that have been in my wedding, that watch my kids when I need a quick sitter; they are ladies that are loving, kind, open-minded and good. I know that there are "cliquey" moms groups out there - but ECM isn't one of them. We welcome any mom to join us, and always have. - Audrey Van Tuyl
Dick Watson February 11, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Ladies how big is your group? We rent meeting rooms at the Redmond VFW with uo to 250 people. We also have smaller rooms or areas. You can bring your children and even have a glass of wine during your meeting. Dick Watson 425-990-0202
AC February 12, 2012 at 08:58 AM
So do you really mean that anyone is allowed to join your meeting? It seems that you only want women and young children to be there. Can any man walk in there and become a part of the group? I doubt it. However the knitting club would probably accept anyone interested.
Cindi February 14, 2012 at 07:46 PM
I'm wondering how libraries became involved in the practice of renting out meeting space to begin with. I would prefer that the libraries stick to lending reading material and not get involved with offering the public meeting space or computers to play video games, chat, view porn, etc.
Jeanne Gustafson February 14, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Just a point of fact, Cindi, that the library doesn't exactly "rent out" space. The space is available for free for public meetings and functions. The users can't charge attendees and the meetings have to be open to anyone who chooses to join in. And to respond to a previous comment, yes, in my understanding, that would include a single male who chose to walk into and participate in a parenting group that was using the public space for its meeting.
dexterjibs February 15, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Creepy men that want to watch porn with kids a few feet away get unlimited access to tax payer funded libraries. This is done in the name of 1st Amendment protections. So, family friendly is not a term that can be used in regards to public libraries anymore. So, pay your taxes to the public libraries and let them slide towards Gomorrha while we sit down and shut up.
Cindi February 15, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Jeanne, I realize that the library does not charge a fee for using meeting space.* What I was trying to say is that the space is utilized for meetings and not for a library's primary purpose--books. Why are we building and maintaining libraries w/meeting space? In other words, let's build a library building more efficiently--without meeting space or long, tall hallways that are energy inefficient (in the case of Redmond Regional library). *If we really cut to the core of economics, we must be transparent and explain that, while the library is not charging people to use the meeting space, there is a cost to the space. It costs money to build the space. It costs money to heat the space, light the space, maintain the space, repair the space, etc. Who is paying for all that? Taxpayers.
Jeanne Gustafson February 15, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I understand your point, Cindi. On the flip side, I'm certain that there are many groups that are happy for public meeting space, available for no cost, that allows them to hold meetings and offer that enrichment to the very taxpayers who have paid for that essential public space.


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